17 June 2022

New beginning on the horizon for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Composer Kara Williams with RCM CEO Hamish Tait with a grand piano

(Left to right) composer Kara Williams with RCM CEO Hamish Tait. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Riverina Conservatorium of Music (RCM) is preparing for the most significant change in its history.

Its relocation to a building down by the Wollundry lagoon is a project 10 years in the making.

“We will be moving into an amazing building,” RCM CEO Hamish Tait said.

“We will have a brand spanking new venue with the state-of-the-art facilities right in the middle of Wagga.

“It will bring us right into the cultural community within Wagga.”

The move coincides with a $6470 grant from Riverina Waters’ Community Grants Program, which will go towards RCM’s annual Christmas Concert.

Mr Tait said the grant from Riverina Waters showed tremendous support to Conservatorium.

“A little boost to allow us to do significant projects,” he said.

Mr Tait said the 2022 Christmas Concert would be bigger than last year.

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RCM staff member Kara Williams is in the process of composing new music for the Christmas Concert.

“The opportunity to be commissioned to compose something for the Conservatorium is special,” she said.

“I’m lucky to have the ensembles here [at RCM] and hadn’t composed anything before I came to Wagga.”

Part of the Riverina Water’s grant was a provision for the commission of new composition.

Mr Tait said previously the Conservatorium had commissioned works from composers out of the region, including one from renowned Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe.

“It’s great to have composers living and working within the community and we’re lucky to have Kara, who is willing to put fingers to keyboard to create new music,” he said.

“Kara is a tremendous asset to this community. She has had countless world premiers of music published and performed worldwide.

“The project is about the creation of music, the education of our young people who play the ensembles … and then the final product of the performance of that music in concert.”

RCM’s vision is to bring the community and families together and allow everyone to celebrate the end of the year without imposing COVID restrictions.

Orchestra in concert

Riverina Youth Orchestra and student and Riverina concert bands at a recent concert. Photo: RCM.

The Conservatorium hopes to give the community the Carols in the Domain experience.

“We want to end the year with a lovely warm celebration leading into Christmas and play music that is approachable and accessible that people will love and enjoy,” Mr Tait said.

“It’s about building the community’s connection to us (RCM) as the main provider of music and music education in the community. We see it as our responsibility.”

About 200 people attended the 2021 Christmas Concert. RCM publicity officer and concert manager Kylie Dunstan said the Conservatorium has no restrictions for numbers for 2022.

“The more people we have, the better and we hope to have at least 500 to 1000 people in the park,” she said.

“We’re hoping it will become an annual event that people can look forward to and put in their diary.”

Ms Dunstan said the Conservatorium is putting together a program with music that people normally wouldn’t associate with Christmas but which is still traditional Christmas music.

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Mr Tait’s five-year vision for the Conservatorium is to expand the organisation’s integration into the cultural elements of the city.

“Project like this one [Christmas Concert] having bigger performances in the garden,” he said.

The Conservatorium also provides music education services to all the schools in the Wagga area.

“Our vision is to expand those programs and provide more children with access to music education,” he said.

Mr Tait said the new venue would bring forth new opportunities for the Conservatorium to bring talented artists to Wagga who could work with the students to raise the profile of music education in the area.

“It will also raise the standards of playing and music performance in the region,” he said.

“We want to be leaders in Australia in this regard and this new building will be a great vehicle for us to achieve that.”

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